Tuesday, July 28, 2009

World Approaches to Sex Education

By Molly Hays, Communcations Intern

Teenage pregnancy tends to be a good indicator of the effectiveness of sexual education programs. Currently, the Netherlands hold the record for lowest incidence of teenage pregnancy. Conversely, teenage pregnancy is the greatest in sub-Saharan Africa. Both cultures are on the extreme opposite ends when it comes to sexual education; and it shows. Meanwhile, China and America are undergoing major policy changes in their sex education programs.

In sub-Saharan Africa, for every 1,000 girl’s ages 15 to 19 years old, 143 become pregnant. In addition, lack of proper health care resources means that carrying and having a child places the mother’s life at great risks.

Sub-Saharan Africa deals with human rights issues like child marriage, genital mutilation, sex trafficking and gender equality. These issues coupled with a lack of basic education can be disastrous.

Thankfully, education is on the rise, both basic and sexual. Previously higher education levels in the region had been linked with increased contraction of STIs and since holding a higher education afforded people more free time and access to sex workers and HIV/AIDS during a time when sex education was almost nonexistent. However, that has been reversed with the onset of HIV/AIDS education.

Unease about sexuality creates a taboo in sub-Saharan Africa that sexual education programs have a hard time combating. Studies show that cultural sensitivity like explaining sex education as a tool to prevent HIV/AIDS makes the programs more socially acceptable than just the sexual education descriptor alone.

The biggest component of lowering teenage pregnancy and STI rates is primary education for the skills learned in school affords people the reasoning skills to effectively make conscious decisions regarding their sexual health.

Unlike sub-Saharan Africa, sexual education taboos have been eradicated in the Netherlands. An open approach is taken in schools where teachers and students converse freely about sexual topics, blending hard facts with feelings.

The program called “Lang leve de liefde” or “Long Live Love,” was developed in the 1980s when AIDS became a hot topic. Sex is treated as a natural interaction between two human beings, and teachers are taught to teach the truth about sex to even elementary school children. This openness has silenced snickers and giggles – giving way to completely open forums where children are relaxed and not afraid to ask questions.

Honesty is important as children are also informed about homosexual intercourse, prostitution, masturbation and contraception. Currently 93 percent of sexually active youth use contraception.

However, a negative stigma is attached to having a child before reaching the age of 20. Also sex is viewed in terms of love and not conquest, resulting in many youth waiting until almost 18 years of age to have sex.

Until recently, sex education in China had been limited and taboo. Now, however, new policies are breaking through the limitations and taboos by making sex education available and easier to talk about.

In February the government launched a campaign aimed at eradicating old views and replacing them with knowledge and ease in seeking medical assistance for sexual health
Prior to this campaign, it was not uncommon for sex education to be limited to a single page in a book that children were instructed to read on their own. Many children learned about sex from pornography websites, since their education need was not being met by schools or family.

Many people suffering from sexually transmitted diseases were reluctant to seek help, or never did. In addition, STI rates, especially that of HIV and AIDS continued to rise, forcing the government to take action thus the new program; the goal is to educate and guide people but also to restrict negative sexual influences like the very porn websites children sought out.
Sex and the State

President Obama has initiated many changes in policy already; the greatest change that pertains to sex education is that the budget eliminates funding for abstinence only sex education programs.

This is a drastic, 180 degree turn from the abstinence only programs President Bush promoted. Obama is opting for an education based teen pregnancy prevention program.

On the campaign trail, Obama had been attacked for backing a bill that would begin sex education in elementary school. He insisted that age-appropriate, science-based education was necessary, saying it was the right things to do.

Only time will tell if the policies will be followed and if states will catch on to implementing science-based and age-appropriate sex education in their schools and just how these education programs influence STD, STI and teen pregnancy incidence.

These changes do look bright, allowing for more discourse and actual education.

Be a part of the Unite for Change mission.

Do you know people making a difference?

Do you know Men and Women determined to eradicate the all too real statistic that is, 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted while in college?

Unite for Change wants to hear about these exceptional people, to honor and acknowledge all their great work! Whether it's through improved communication, campus safety, encouraging healthy relationships or taking action on campus or in a community, we think these men and women deserve some recognition.

Please send your nominations for a Brother or Sister for Change to Sabrina, Social Outreach Intern Sabrina@kellyandbecca.com

Do you know of a college organization or program focused to bring sexual assault prevention, education, and/or awareness to the forefront?

Unite for Change wants to hear all about it! We want to share your campus programs and organizations great success stories with other campuses.

Please email Sabrina, Unite for Change Social Outreach Intern the details about your campus program so we can sing your praises and spread the good word. Sabrina@kellyandbecca.com

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Kudos to the Killers

by Molly Hays

The Killers and MTV have teamed up with U.N. children's arm UNICEF and U.S. aid agency USAID to create a video for the band’s song, “Goodnight, Travel Well,” off the album “Day & Age,” that highlights the issues of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

The video never actually shows the Killers, but instead hones in on the emotions of a young girl being forced into the sex slavery world.

“We are deeply shocked and appalled that women and children are forced into such exploitative situations,” said The Killers, adding, “We hope that through MTV’s efforts and this powerful video that millions of people across the world learn about this tragic form of modern-day slavery.”

The video is very powerful and moving. It brings a human face to an issue that by its nature, many people never get to see the personal side of.

In the video, young girls are locked in a dinghy room where they are only retrieved to be sexually exploited. The one girl who is “chosen,” fights and resists but is overpowered. While she goes off to do “her job,” the sadness in her face is unavoidable.

“Some things cost more than you realize,” flashes on the screen and lingers near the end of the video. This single line of text paired with the images of a man paying for sex and the sex slave leaves a haunting message.

Watch the video here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Jeanne Clery Act

By Sabrina Sadler, Social Outreach Intern

A special thanks to S. Daniel Carter from Security on Campus, I came across this article, recognizing the Jeanne Clery Act. It introduces the origins of the Act and how it has helped protect college students. Some questions to consider while reading…

As parents, do you assume that when your child goes to campus he/she is safe?

As a result of the Jeanne Clery Act, colleges now have to publish crimes on college campuses. As parents/students do you take a look at these statistics?

Now that colleges are required to publish crime statistics, do you think crime on campus has decreased or increased? What do you think caused the decrease or increase?

Child Safety 101: What is The Jeanne Clery Act and how does it protect college students?
July 20, 10:22 AM

When parents send their children away to college, they assume that their child is entering a relatively safe and secure environment. But what legal protections exist to make sure that parents and prospective students are apprised of campus crime, so they can use this information to make informed choices about what school they will select.

In 1986, Jeanne Clery was a 19 year old Lehigh University freshman. That April, while asleep in her dorm, she was raped and murdered by a fellow student she did not know.

At the time, neither Jeanne nor her parents, Connie and Howard Clery, were aware that there had been 38 violent crimes on the Lehigh campus in the preceeding three years.

After Jeanne's death, the Clery's partnered with other campus crime victims to secure passage of The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, originally known as the Crime Awareness and Campus Security Act of 1990. The Act requires colleges to disclose to students information regarding crimes on and around campuses. Here is a summary of the provisions of the Act, from the SOC website:
"Institutions must publish an annual report disclosing campus security policies and three years worth of selected crime statistics.

Institutions must make timely warnings to the campus community about crimes that pose an ongoing threat to students and employees.

Each institution with a police or security department must have a public crime log.

The U.S. Department of Education centrally collects and disseminates the crime statistics. Campus community sexual assault victims are assured of certain basic rights.

Institutions that fail to comply may be fined or lose eligibility to participate in federal student aid programs."

The Jeanne Clery Act was amended several times since 1990 to add additional safeguards, including sex offender notification and ensuring certain rights for victims of sexual assault. In August of 2008, in response to the Virginia Tech shootings, the requirement of a campus emergency response plan was added. Included is a requirement that the students and staff be notified immediately when there is an emergency on campus.

Students and employees should automatically receive copies of the campus annual security report. Prospective students and parents can (and should) request a copy, as well. Compliance with the Act is tied to participation in federal student aid programs.

The Clery's also founded Security on Campus, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to campus safety and security. SOC offers resources, trainings, high school outreach programs, victim advocacy, and more.

Prospective students and their families should be sure to research crime statistics and safety programs and procedures at any college they may attend.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


By Sabrina Sadler, Social Outreach Intern

1 in 4 college women surveyed are victims of rape or attempted rape.

As an active college student who was involved in bringing Sexual Assault Awareness to campus, I heard this statistic constantly and I shared it with my fellow collegians repeatedly. When I first heard 1 in 4 college women are victims of rape or attempted rape, it blew my mind. I thought WOW; I walked away with thinking 1 in 4 college women.

Through my journey of being an advocate and activist I have grown to look at this statistic quite differently and pose the question…

Do you ever think past the numbers?

Do you ever think of that 1 woman?

This clip from the movie “Speak” only represents one girl and her story.

Each woman has their own personal story. No two sexual assaults are alike.

Each survivor of rape or attempted rape deals differently.

I believe from the moment that she was violated her life is FOREVER changed.

Since I have been an activist to end sexual assault, I have had friends, sisters, and complete strangers share their story with me. I look at these women as remarkable human beings. I am amazed by them, for the statistics slowly disappear and instead become faces and stories. They are my force to keep bringing awareness.

I’ve heard the 1 in 4 statistic over and over again, knowing the severity of what it means. So then why am I still surprised when someone shares their story with me? Because at that moment the statistic is real, it is a woman and her story. And all I can think is that I am grateful that she chose to share her story and not hold it in.

In the movie “Speak”, it took the support of Melinda’s teacher and close friend, in order for her to recall her traumatic incident of being raped, and learn how to deal with the situation.

42% of college women who are raped tell no one about their assault.

My ending note:
You never know who may be watching you. You may be someone’s inspiration. Always keep an open mind. Never judge, for you never truly know what someone has been through in their life.

For more information on Sexual Assault, Statistics, Resources, visit uniteforchange.com

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sexual Boundaries and Vacation

By Molly Hays, Communications Intern

The Sexversations 3 of diamonds asks, “Do your sexual boundaries change while on vacation or spring break and if so is that okay? (ex. What happens in Mexico stays in Mexico!)”

It may not be spring break anymore, but summer is prime vacation time. And packed along with the sunscreen and swimsuit are often preconceived notions of sexual fun made possible by changing sexual boundaries.

Why do vacations validate changing sexual boundaries? Is it because you probably won’t ever see anyone you meet at the bar in Cancun again? Does relaxation relax boundaries? What makes it okay to do things on vacation that you normally wouldn’t do back home?

While not everyone’s sexual boundaries change on vacation it’s safe to say that spring break has a reputation for combining binge drinking and casual sex. But does alcohol inebriation change sexual boundaries alone?

Often consent to changing sexual boundaries can be overpowered by alcohol. A new study by the Journal of American College Health reports that 20 percent of undergraduate women experience sexual assault during their college years. In addition, 11 percent were assaulted while incapacitated.

Pregnancies, STDs and STIs, and moral implications can result of changing sexual boundaries; its then that spring break breaks down. Because what happens in Vegas, doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Kind Campaign

By Sabrina Sadler, Social Outreach Intern

A movement, based upon the powerful belief in Kindness, that seeks to bring awareness and healing to the negative and lasting affects of abuse within the "Girl World."

What is Kind Campaign?

YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Every single girl has encountered an experience at some point within their lives in which they become aggressors or victims of girl-against-girl "crime". Physical fighting, name-calling, threats, power struggles, competition, manipulation, secrets, rumors, and ostracizing other girls, all fall under the category of girl-against-girl "crime". These "crimes" strip us of our identity.

Let's be real for a second. We all want to be liked. It’s already hard enough to accept ourselves for who we are, let alone accept the perceptions and judgments that other girls have of us. Over the years, the vicious ways in which females treat each other have become societal norms. With various media outlets that mock and even glamorize the issue, it seems that society has simply concluded, "That's the way girls are." We disagree, because we believe that there is goodness within all females, even if that goodness has been shoved aside by the pressures society has placed upon us. What we fail to realize and choose to ignore is the fact that these experiences very often lead to depression, anxiety, loss of self worth, eating disorders, drug abuse, alcoholism, attempted suicide and actual suicide in millions of girls lives.

But why? Doesn't it seem odd? Don't you think that as females, we should respect and support each other? Well, we think so… "We" are two college students, Lauren Parsekian and Molly Stroud, who have recognized this problem and have decided to do something about it. Whether it's your friends, family, acquaintances at school, people in the workplace, or even strangers, Kind Campaign is asking us all to reconsider the way we treat other females.

Look, we know it's hard to be a girl sometimes. We aren't asking for everyone to become best friends…that's simply unrealistic. However, we are suggesting something very simple: to STOP the competition, STOP the cattiness, STOP the hate, and to BE KIND.


The Kind Campaign sends the simplest message…to be kind. Often girls can be the harshest of critics to one another.
This should not be the case.
Girls should stand by one another.
Women should stand by one another.

The Kind Campaign reminded me of the Unite for Change Campaign based on the fact that as women when we hear that a girl was sexually assaulted we often become quick to judge the victim.
“That outfit she was wearing was asking for it.”
“She was leading him on.”
“Well she got drunk, so it’s her own fault.”

We make these judgments to distance ourselves from the victim to make us feel that we couldn’t have been sexually assaulted. But the truth is that any woman, any girl; anywhere can be the victim of sexual assault. It is not about what the victim was wearing, or if she flirted with perpetrator, or if she drank too much. She was violated, that is the truth.

As a victim of sexual assault one already blames themselves for being in the wrong place or talking to the wrong person, there is always some form of self blame. Victims of sexual assault have already been through enough.

We need to stop the victim blaming, Stop the Judging, and Be Kind.

Lauren Parsekian and Molly Stroud started the Kind Campaign, encouraging women and girls everywhere to be kind to one another.

Kelly Addington and Becca Tieder started the Unite for Change Campaign, educating and bringing awareness of sexual assault to college campuses.

It is everyday women that are able to bring KINDNESS.
It is everyday women that are able to bring CHANGE.
It is YOU. You can Be Kind. You can Bring Change.

Follow the Kind Campaign on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kindcampaign

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Sexually Empowered Cookout

Here we are enjoying a summer cookout with friends and a deck of cards suddenly appeared. The sweet round of Sexversations went so well with the guacamole... you should give it a try!
Here's what you'll need.
1. Peeps. It can be a small yet incredibly enthusiastic group of 2 up to how ever many you have room for at your par-tay.
2. Deck of Sexversations.
3. Guacamole dip (2 avocados, 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes, 1/4 cup finely chopped onions, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, juice of 1 lime, couple dashes of salt, a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce. Mix together and mmm...enjoy!)
4. Chips and veggies for dipping.
5. Your favorite beverage, we recommend an ice cold cerveza.

I wonder how many other summer cookouts include a group of friends gathered 'round the patio engaged in a colorful discussion about everything from sex education and the legitimacy of born again virginity to an interesting difference of opinion about what happens in Cabo, should/should not stay in Cabo? It's very liberating!

Whatever this 4th of July weekend was for you I hope it turned out even better than you expected. With all the flags, fireworks and freedom filled stories I'm feeling most thankful. While driving home last night with the fireworks bursting in the sky and the American flag displayed on cars, raised in front of buildings and neighborhood front porches I could not help but smile and feel proud. I don't need a flag or a cookout to remind me of our Independence, though it is quite nice and I do enjoy seeing the red, the white and the blue everywhere. But put all the frills of the 4th aside and I am still proud. Not just today but everyday.
I can still remember (most of) the Declaration of Independence, thanks to my 4th grade teacher, Ms. Flament. So here's to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Let freedom ring!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Alcohol & Sex: A Disastrous Combination

By Molly Hays, Communications Intern

In 2005, more than 97,000 college students ranging in age from 18 to 24 were victims of alcohol-related acquaintance rape or sexual assault according to collegedrinkingprevention.gov. This specific website aims to change drinking habits in college students.
97,000 is a staggering number, and presumably that number has only been increasing as campuses swell.

Alcohol and sex prove to be a disastrous combination, not just for college students.

That’s why, the Sexversations® 3 of hearts card, provides an interesting question; “If someone was drinking and they are sexually assaulted, does that mean it's their fault?”
First off, I would exclaim loudly that no, it’s not their fault. Yet, a culture of victim blaming has developed, in which the victim is not only blamed but disgraced.

No one can ever predict or prepare to guard themselves against sexual assault; however precautions can be taken to better help ensure your own personal safety. Again, even if precautions are disregarded, that doesn’t mean the act of violence committed against you is justified. And someone could safeguard themselves as much as possible and still be violated.

Some things we suggest doing to help protect yourself are to:
- Avoid dangerous situations
- Trust your intuition
- Be aware of your surrounding
- Stay in groups when going out
- Always have a DSP (designated sober person)
- Carry your cell phone at all times
- Watch your drink carefully, and don’t drink from it after leaving it unattended

For more information on how to protect yourself you can visit Unite for Change.

But what do you suggest? How can people take an active role in personal safety and how can we deviate from a culture rampant with victim blaming practices?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Justice for rape victims

After 9 months of public and private pressure towards the Los Angeles Police and Sheriff’s Department, these departments finally counted their untested rape kits. In the recent article from the San Francisco Chronicle, it is brought to our attention that many rape kits are not being tested. Not only are these rape kits not being tested but these rape kits are not even being accounted for. Los Angeles is a prime example, 12,500 sets of rape kits were found to be untested and unaccounted for reported by the Human Rights Watch.

As an advocate, I encourage survivors of sexual assault to seek medical attention and strongly encourage them to allow a rape kit exam to be performed so that biological and physical evidence can be collected, which is often necessary to support their case. A rape victim has the right to choose whether or not to report the crime committed against them and as an advocate I support their decision either way. As an activist I personally feel reporting the crime is important. Whether I’m playing the role of activist or advocate, to find out there is a possibility the rape kits that we strongly encourage the survivor to take part in are not even being tested blows my mind.

What does this say to the victim?

Who chooses what rape kits should be tested?

Every victim has the right to seek justice.

The article concluded with the emphasis of having a statewide reporting of untested rape kits being mandated. Although this does not insure the testing of every rape kit, it is a first step to having all rape kits accounted for.

This step should have already been mandatory furthermore; our next step needs to be the assurance that rape kits are being tested. Having these untested rape kits tested allows for identification of the perpetrator and ensures public safety from future assaults by the same perpetrator.

Be Aware. Take Action.
Sabrina Sadler, Social Outreach Intern

Justice for rape victims: Don't ignore evidence
Sarah Tofte
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Imagine for the moment the unthinkable: You are a rape victim. In the aftermath of such a traumatic event, the police will ask to collect DNA evidence from your body, an invasive process that can take four to six hours. Police will take this evidence, known as a rape kit, and you might assume it would be tested for a DNA match that could lead to a prosecution and conviction and keep your rapist from striking again.

Yet, all too often, rape kits are never sent to crime labs. Across the nation, there are thousands and thousands of untested kits in police storage facilities. A March 2009 report by Human Rights Watch found that in the Los Angeles area alone, there were more than 12,500 sets of untested rape kits. Our research reveals that backlogs are not unique to Los Angeles - they exist in any major jurisdiction that does not have a policy of testing every kit booked into police evidence. That includes the Bay Area.

Untested rape kits represent lost justice for rape victims. DNA testing has grown increasingly important in rape investigations. Testing a kit can lead to identification of an assailant, confirm a suspect's contact with a victim, corroborate the victim's account of the assault, link apparently unrelated crimes and exonerate innocent defendants. Nationwide studies have shown that cases in which a rape kit was collected, tested and contained DNA evidence are more likely to move forward in the criminal justice system.

Finding a match can prevent a rapist from raping again. In one horrific recent case, authorities failed to send for testing the rape kit from a very young victim, and the suspect later raped another girl.

Human Rights Watch's research on the backlog in Los Angeles revealed that law enforcement agencies do not routinely send every booked rape kit for testing, nor do they keep track of how many kits are sitting untested. When the police and sheriff saw the numbers for Los Angeles, they were shocked.

When Human Rights Watch began its research, it heard powerful stories from rape victims who also had shared their stories with city and county lawmakers.

Without hard numbers, however, it was difficult to generate the political will to fix the problem. The organization's biggest task was to get the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Sheriff's Department to reveal the number of untested kits in storage.

Public record requests were of little help. Under California law, public entities must only report findings from rape kits they have counted. But if they haven't counted them, the information officially didn't exist. It took nearly nine months of public and private pressure to get the Police and Sheriff's Departments in Los Angeles to count their untested rape kits. It was not until the numbers were publicized that law enforcement was compelled to change its policies.

Human Rights Watch is not aware of any jurisdiction in California - including the Bay Area - that has made a commitment to count its backlog and then test every rape kit. A bill before the state Senate would require police and sheriff's departments to count the untested kits and report that number to the state Department of Justice.

A statewide reporting mandate is a necessary first step toward justice for rape victims in California. The Legislature can signal to rape victims that their rape kits - and public safety - matter enough to require law enforcement agencies to count them.

Sarah Tofte is a researcher with the U.S. Division of Human Rights Watch.